New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the deployment of two steel vessels, the Chickadee on the McAllister Grounds Reef and Barge 226 on Smithtown Reef, as part of the State’s ongoing efforts to expand New York’s network of artificial reefs.
These final deployments for 2021 continue to build on DEC’s efforts to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York’s shores.
DEC manages the State’s 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean. All 12 reef sites received new materials since 2018, and these two deployments continue to enhance the artificial reef network.
Now part of the McAllister Grounds Reef, the vessel Chickadee is a 45-foot steel tugboat built by the U.S. Navy in 1948. Prior to being deployed, the Chickadee assisted with towing Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) coal and oil barges in Port Jefferson, New York. The vessel was formerly berthed in Staten Island and owned by Admiral Towing and Salvage LLC.
Barge 226 is an 80-foot steel deck barge used for commercial marine construction before being repurposed as part of Smithtown Reef to help create new marine habitat. The New York Power Authority supported preparation, cleaning, and deployment of the two vessels, which were donated by Admiral Towing and Salvage LLC.
The benefits of constructing New York’s artificial reefs include improving existing habitats to increase local marine biodiversity, stimulating more productive and diverse aquatic ecosystems, and promoting environmental sustainability.
Steel surplus materials are stable and durable reef-building material that provide shelter and forage opportunities for finfish and crustaceans that inhabit these underwater structures, such as tautog, fluke, black sea bass, scup, and lobsters. Sunken vessels also attract Scuba divers that explore and photograph the underwater structures.
Additional artificial reef deployments in 2021 include the Shannon C a 60-foot steel barge to Shinnecock Reef, and a 55-foot steel luxury vessel Big Time to Fire Island Reef.
Anglers in New York State marine waters are required to enroll in the New York Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. The Registry provides important information for setting quotas, size and bag limits, and fishing seasons each year. More information on the Registry can be found on the DEC website or by contacting DEC’s Marine Fishing Access Unit at (631) 444-0438.